Hemiparetic or Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Hemiparetic and Hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP) are two different forms of cerebral palsy with the same disabilities: one side of the body side is affected. Hemiplegic is the more severe form of the disorder that involves total paralysis on one side of the body, while those with hemiparetic CP experience muscle weakness and/or mild paralysis on the affected side of the body.

Causes of Hemiparetic or Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Caused by brain damage, hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP constitute at least a third of all people with CP in the United States and are typically diagnosed before a child turns 3 years old. Per the American Medical Association (AMA), there are several risk factors that may contribute to the development of hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP, including maternal or placental infection, asphyxia during birth, congenital heart disease, infant stroke, and/or mother and infant blood incompatibility.

At least 60% of all cases are a result of infant stroke. In most cases, the infant’s stroke will cause seizures within the first three days after birth. In other instances, the stroke may not be noticeable until several months and even years later.

As mentioned earlier, children with hemiparetic CP are not totally paralyzed on one side of the boy, but either the left or right side of the body is weaker than the other side, making it difficult to carry out activities with the affected side of the body. Children with hemiplegic CP are unable to use the affected side of the body at all, including the arm, leg, foot, shoulder, and hand.

Symptoms to Look Out For

Keep in mind that symptoms will vary according to each child. While some children may exhibit all symptoms, others may only exhibit a few. The common symptoms associated with hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP consist of:

  • Using only one hand while playing, typically surfacing before the age of three
  • Constantly keeping one hand balled into a fist
  • Unusually long delay in reaching developmental milestones
  • Extreme stiffness and/or muscle weakness on one side of the body
  • Balance and walking problems

Conditions to Look Out For

Since hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP stem from a brain injury, a myriad of other medical conditions may surface. Again, each child is affected differently and some may develop more disabilities than others:

  • Difficulties with memory, concentration, and attention
  • Difficulties with planning, organizing, and carrying out plans
  • Hyperactivity, irritability, mood swings, and emotional outbursts
  • Vision impairment and difficulties with eye coordination
  • Seizures, either immediately after birth or several months to years later

Treatment for Hemiparetic or Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

As with other forms of CP, there is currently no cure for hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP. However, the disorders are not progressive and can be treated in a number of ways, including orthopedic surgery, braces, splints, seizure medication, sensory integration, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Your child may also be able to attend traditional school, but may need additional assistance with organization and challenging subjects. Some children may need to attend specialized classes in order to handle their needs.


Prognosis is favorable for hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP as they are not progressive, as aforementioned. The correct treatment and therapy will help your child adjust and thrive. Yet, because of the lack of mobility that many children face, there are risks of blood clots, muscle spasms, stiff joints, and bed sores. Therefore, it’s crucial that you keep your child as active as possible and in a physical therapy program that works with their individual needs.